Tree Removal

Whatcom County Code regulates tree removal in Critical Areas and their buffers, the Lake Whatcom watershed, the Lake Samish watershed, the Lake Padden watershed, and areas within 200-feet of a regulated shoreline.

Tree Removal in the Lake Whatcom, Lake Samish, and Lake Padden watersheds

 A tree removal permit is required for the removal of any significant tree(s) (if the removal of the tree(s) is not associated with a development permit). You can get the Tree Removal Permit application at

  • Trees that are an immediate threat to persons or property may be removed without review. If the hazard condition is not obvious, a Tree Risk Assessment prepared by a qualified professional will be required as part of the Tree Removal Permit.

If trees are to be removed as part of a development permit, tree removal information will be required with the applicable development permit. A tree retention plan will be required to be submitted with the applicable development permit.

Tree canopy removal (whether it is associated with a development permit or not) may not exceed more than 35% or 5,000 sq. ft. of the tree canopy existing on site as of January 1, 2017 (measured cumulatively).

  • Tree canopy credits are available for individual significant trees or clusters of trees.

See WCC 20.51.430 and WCC 20.51.440 for tree removal in the Lake Whatcom watershed and WCC20.71.354 and WCC 20.71.356 for tree removal requirements in the Lake Samish and Lake Padden watersheds.